« October 2003 | Main | December 2003 »

November 20, 2003

Increase In Hotel Tax?

"V.I. hoteliers are voicing vehement opposition to a budget bill that would raise the hotel occupancy tax by 25 percent. "

So I guess I have been living in a cave - I just heard of this story this morning. The governmnet is actually thinking of raising the hotel tax? Obviously people in the industry are dismayed - but everyone should be. You can't keep grabbing from the same pot all the time. Here is a link to the story http://www.virginislandsdailynews.com/index.pl/article_home?id=3147173

Posted by afinta at 09:37 AM | Comments (3)

November 19, 2003

Movie of The Flood

Here is a little Quick Time movie of the water gushing out from behind our house. This is from last Saturday afternoon, the 14th - which seemed to be the heaviest of it all. Deluge Movie

Posted by afinta at 11:20 PM | Comments (1)

Fish Bay Road


Fish Bay Road, St. John. I am not sure of the date of the photo.

Posted by afinta at 11:02 PM | Comments (1)

November 14, 2003

Photos From Ronnie


Not sure of the name of this road - maybe some one can help.


Coming Up Mafolie Hill

Posted by afinta at 06:59 PM | Comments (5)

This is what I was talking about...

Posted by afinta at 04:26 PM | Comments (3)

The Great Deluge (continued)

Wow - just took the long way home from Crown Bay around Crown Mountain (see this map - route #33). It was pouring again (this was around 10:15 AM AST) and there was water, mud and rocks everywhere. Some of the road looked just like a river. It is really amazing to see all that water coming off the mountain, walls springing leaks, huge boulders in the road, etc. I should have had my camera. We'll try to get some photos up soon. There are reports that we have received 18 inches of rain so far.

Here is a link to a story from the Guardian, mostly about Puerto Rico, but does mention the VI.

We have been pretty luck here on St. Thomas and St. John so far but according to the Red Cross St. Croix has been hardest hit - there is more about this today in The Source. There is also an article about school and government closings.

As I finish this it is just about noon and here comes some more rain!

Update:

Here is a photo taken about 30 minutes ago - this is looking out our front door towards the retaining wall that runs behind the house (it is a duplex with a unit above).

That wave of water there coming over the wall is about three feet wide. Last night it was stretched all the way across the wall - about eight to ten feet.

Posted by afinta at 01:03 PM | Comments (6)

Thousands evacuated in flooding

By Ricardo Zuniga in San Juan, Puerto Rico
November 14, 2003

THOUSANDS of Puerto Ricans were ordered from their homes as relentless rains unleashed floods across the Caribbean island, sending rivers surging over their banks and setting off landslides. Click here for the full story

Posted by afinta at 02:49 AM

November 13, 2003

The Great Deluge

Yes - it has been raining here on St. Thomas (and St. John, St. Croix, Puerto Rico) for what seems like weeks. But since last Saturday night at the Taste of St. John we have had several major downpours. For the first time in 3 years both chambers of our cistern are full to overflowing, which is great, but it would be nice to see the sun! As if right now it looks like yet another round of heavy rain is moving this way from Puerto Rico. You can read more about the rain on the St. Thomas Source. Let's hear some of your rain stories!




The Webcam at the Crystal Palace, Wednesday 5:30 PM



Fish Bay, St. John (this photo was sent by a friend via LA) - Tuesday or Wednesday


Posted by afinta at 09:57 AM | Comments (14)

November 08, 2003

UNITED STATES VIRGIN ISLANDS UPDATE

USVI Department of Tourism's Italy Office Has Moved

The U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Tourism's regional office in Italy has moved. The new address is: Via Carlo Pisacane, 26; 20129 Milano, Italy. The telephone and fax numbers have not changed. The telephone number is 39 02 33 10 58 41, and the fax number is 39 02 33 10 58 27.

Cape Air and Continental Airlines Expand Flight Schedule

Cape Air recently announced that it is expanding its flight schedule between San Juan, Puerto Rico and St. Thomas and St. Croix, to offer travelers more than 50 daily round trip flights. In addition, the airline has a new program with Continental Airlines, its codeshare partner in the Caribbean, to offer passengers on Continental codeshare flights operated by Cape Air, double OnePass miles. The double miles program is available from now until December 20, 2003. With the expanded schedule, Continental passengers have greater connection opportunities between San Juan and the Territory. For additional information, visit www.flycapeair.com.

Carambola Beach Resort Names New General Manager

Carambola Beach Resort, on St. Croix, recently announced that Derek Newton is the property's new general manager. Derek brings more than 20 years experience in the hospitality industry to the resort. For more information, call (340) 778-3800, or visit www.carambolabeachresort.com.

Coral World Changes Name

The largest aquarium and hands-on marine activity center on St. Thomas recently changed its name. Now known as Coral World Ocean Park, formerly known as Coral World Marine Park and Underwater Observatory, the aqua attraction continues to provide visitors with an array of underwater educational experiences including shark feedings and sea trekking. Call (888) 695-2073, or visit www.coralworldvi.com.

St. Thomas Adds the Screamin' Eagle Jet Boat to its Array of Watersport Activities

The Screamin' Eagle Jet Boat is the latest addition to the adventure activity line-up on St. Thomas. Brought to adventurous travelers by Atlantis Adventures, the new thrill-seeking 700 horsepower, turbo-charged jet boat zips through the water at speeds of up to 40 knots. Considered a roller coaster on water, the new highly maneuverable boat can carry up to 23 passengers and has the ability to make power stops and 180-degree turns. For additional information or to book a trip on the new ride, call (340) 776-5650, or visit www.atantisadventures.com.

Sugar Beach Condo Resort Now Has On-site Wedding Coordinator

Sugar Beach Condo Resort on St. Croix recently announced that Cindee Sheridan is the resort's new on-site wedding consultant. The property boasts numerous romantic locations, including a 250 year-old sugar mill and a 500-foot beach. >From now until November 30, the wedding consultation fees will be offered to guests of the resort free of charge. Call (800) 524-2049 or (340) 773-5345, or visit www.sugarbeachstcroix.com.

WICO Dock Can Accommodate Three of the Largest Cruise Ships in the Industry

St. Thomas' West Indian Company cruise ship dock now can accommodate three of the largest cruise ships in the industry at the same time. Frequently called the Havensight dock, the newly renovated cruise ship haven also boasts a new generator capable of powering the entire Havensight shopping area.

Posted by afinta at 02:34 AM

St. Thomas To Host 29th Annual Fall Charteryacht Show

UNITED STATES VIRGIN ISLANDS, November 3, 2003 - Commissioner of Tourism Pamela C. Richards is pleased to announce that the Virgin Islands Charteryacht League will host the 29th Annual Fall Charteryacht Show, November 10-12, at the Crown Bay Marina on St. Thomas. Participating charter vacation brokers and travel agents will be able to view yachts based in the United States Virgin Islands and talk with their crews.

"The charter yacht industry is an integral part of our tourism product," Commissioner of Tourism Pamela C. Richards said. "I encourage current brokers and travel agents interested in becoming certified brokers to attend our semi-annual shows to familiarize themselves with this luxurious, upscale vacation option in the U.S. Virgin Islands."

All recognized brokers are invited to attend the show free of charge. The "New Broker Seminar," scheduled for November 9 and 12, is mandatory for all brokers who have not attended a previous St. Thomas show. Upon completion of the program and attendance at the show, participants are recognized as brokers and are eligible to book charters. The cost of the two-part seminar is $250. Discounts are available to new brokerages with more than one broker attending the seminar. The fee for each additional broker is reduced to $175. New brokers affiliated with a recognized brokerage may attend for $100. There are no additional costs for attending the show, but registration is required.

The Virgin Islands Charteryacht League's semi-annual charteryacht shows are the oldest in the Caribbean. This year's Fall Charteryacht Show is expected to draw more than 40 charter yachts and 100 charter vacation brokers from the U.S. mainland and around the world. Following the show, several yachts will offer three-night familiarization trips between the U.S. Virgin Islands and the British Virgin Islands. The cost for brokers is $50 per night/per broker and $75 per night for companions sharing the broker's cabin, plus customs and immigration fees.

For more information about the upcoming Fall Charteryacht Show, call (340) 774-3944, or (800) 524-2061, or visit the V.I. Charteryacht League's Web site at www.vicl.org. For further details about Crown Bay Marina, visit the Web site at www.crownbay.com. For additional information about the United States Virgin Islands, call 800-372-USVI (8784), visit www.usvitourism.vi or contact the nearest USVI Department of Tourism regional office in Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Washington, D.C. or Toronto.

Posted by afinta at 02:33 AM

Ronnie's Rantings: TAXIS!!!

As five ships were in the harbor Thursday, and with the traffic I went through driving around. I will be ranting about taxis! Yup! Everyone’s favorite subject around here!

Let me start with the airport. What a freaking mess. You get your luggage and then, as you get ready to leave for your destination, you are grunted at by the dispatcher as to where you are going. Now, you have to get into a van with maybe 12 other people, and wait for it to fill up, then head in your direction, just that, in your direction. If there are 3 hotels to be going to, and you are the last one, you get a quick hotel tour. Just what you need after traveling all day! My rant here is to why do they have to have those big unsafe vans? Do you know the rental companies no longer rent them because they have been found to be unsafe by the NTSB? And for years we have been told that the safaris aren’t safe either!

We need regular cabs, not vans or safaris. No reason why you shouldn’t be able to hop in the first cab and go and not pay any extra money. Now if these guys want to have the big cabs and take more people, then they should charge less for that service! In Puerto Rico they have them and call them Publicos. In Trinidad, they are called route taxis. Also in Puerto Rico, they are so tourist conscience, that they have fixed rates to the popular areas, so neither taxi nor visitor get the short end of the stick. The dispatcher writes down the fare on a ticket and hands it to you when you are waiting in line. It tells you how much you will be paying. You hand it to the driver when you get into the cab and that’s it!

Now, if the Senators had any balls, they would change our taxi laws. Taxis have a lot of clout because during the days of the machine in the 60s, they were the ones hired to take voters to the polls to vote. They were the last person that a voter had to talk to sway them in the direction of the machine. In return, they give them anything they want. This has to stop! Most importantly, they need to realize that most voters now get themselves to the polls, and most of the taxi drivers can’t even vote, as they are not citizens!

Main Street would be so much better as a walking street. Lots would be accomplished here. First, the taxis won’t be driving down the street at 3 miles and hour asking you if you want to go back to the ship. If I were a downtown storeowner, it wouldn’t happen. At 9:30 in the morning, they are asking if you want to go back to the ship! What nonsense! There were a few days last season when there were 8 ships in that they closed Main Street to traffic. Guess what? There were no traffic jams on the waterfront, traffic flowed smoothly! This time it’s up to the administration to call the shots, hopefully they will this season!

We have way too many taxis. Something like 1400! I was in Las Vegas once and had the same cab twice in two days caught in a different location. I thought is ironic and when I told the cabbie, he said not. He told me that there were only 250 taxis in the entire city of Las Vegas (that was 1987, I understand they have 350 now) and it is easy to get the same one twice as they run 24/7! And we have 1400!!!And they are still adding 5 a year to veterans!

Not even going to get into their stopping wherever they want, they not picking up locals, the safaris deciding to be dollar rides when they want to, unless tourists are in town, their parking in regular parking spaces, but you can’t park in theirs! I can go on and on, but will stop for now.

What do you think?

Posted by afinta at 01:29 AM | Comments (6)

November 07, 2003

Bella Blu open in Frenchtown

Longtime St. Thomas restaurant owner Alexander Treml has re-opened his former "Alexanders" spot in Frechtown as "Bella Blu" (I hope that spelling is correct).
The popular dining spot has undergone a complete renovation and has an upscale, chic mood. The room has been redone in blues and silvers, the bar is all new with glass shelves and chrome glass holders, and the music sets an international groove in the background.
Of course there is a whole new menu to go with it. We were there recently for lunch and had a great time trying some of the new dishes. I do need to get a menu to do proper justice to the food but standout plates we tasted were black olive pesto gnocchi, grilled lamb ke-babs and the lentil cakes. The food is meant to be shared and there are a lot of appetizer size items, as well as a few larger plates, soups, and daily specials. I can't wait to go back for dinner.
We do have a friend who spends a lot of time there and maybe he can add some more suggestions as to what to eat there.

Posted by afinta at 03:59 PM | Comments (1)

So what's new?

Was off island a few days this week and came back to the news that the Renaissance has been sold. We have a lot of friends over there - I wish them all well and hope they don't all lose their jobs.

This Saturday night is the Flavors Of St. John at the Westin and we are looking forward to that. What else is going on? We have been very busy with work and would like to hear any news any of you have.

Posted by afinta at 03:44 PM | Comments (1)

November 05, 2003

More on cruise ship arrivals

Some destinations concerned of switching ports of call

Wednesday, November 5th, 2003.

By John Collins of Caribbean Business

On top of the continuing debate regarding the proposal for a fixed head tax on cruise passengers, government officials and businesspeople in the Caribbean are dealing with other radical changes in the cruise industry.

You can read the whole article on their site at http://www.puertoricowow.com/html/businessnews-detail.asp?amaspHidden_listActive=true&amaspField_newshd=Some%20destinations%20concerned%20of%20switching%20ports%20of%20call&amaspHidden_newshd_dataType=string

Posted by afinta at 11:06 AM